Sunday 26 May 2013

Back in southern(ish) Ontario

After a solid week of birding/working in the north, I am back in the near north - North Bay to be exact. It has been a great week and there have certainly been a lot of highlights!

In Wawa, the deepest parts of the woods still had a bit of snow. Hard to say whether it is a late spring or an early sure was cold at times!! Despite the snow, most of the migrants were back. It certainly felt weird since the combination of snow and lack of vegetation growth made it feel like early April, yet neotropical migrants like Swainson's Thrush, Least Flycatcher, and about 15 species of warblers were around!


A big highlight in Wawa was hearing a Boreal Owl singing one night on our study site. Pretty awesome!! The only bird I photographed was this very oblivious Ruffed Grouse. This photo was taken with my phone from about 4 feet away. If I had a net with me, we would have had dinner...

Ruffed Grouse - Wawa

A lot of the rivers in the north were overflowing; no doubt due to the rapid late-season snowmelt. As a result, a drive from Wawa to Timmins took an extra 5 hours due to road closures! I took this photo of the marina near the mouth of the Michipicoten River, near Wawa.

Michipicoten River marina

This morning, I had a few hours to spare so I did a bit of pre-work birding. Turns out, 5 Arctic Terns had been found at Kelly Lake in Sudbury, so naturally that is where I went. There is only one other record for the district! After about 10 minutes of scanning, I picked up a couple of terns in flight way out over the lake. One came close enough to ID - an Arctic! The other tern had other plans than to allow it's identity to be seen, so it will have to go down as a tern sp. A singing Alder Flycatcher was new for the year here, and an American Bittern was "blonk-a-donk" ing from a nearby reedbed.

So in a matter of a few days, Algoma District had its first Arctic Tern, Thunder Bay District its first, and now Greater Sudbury has its second! Obviously all those northeast winds certainly helped. It appears that Arctic Terns migrate along the east edge of Ontario, north to James Bay in the spring. These winds must have been enough to throw them off course to the west. Who knows how many more are out there?

I checked out the Chelmsford sewage lagoons this morning as well, and they were surprisingly productive. The flooded field to the north held over 100 shorebirds - most being Semipalmated Plovers and Dunlin. I did see my first Solitary and Semipalmated Sandpipers of the year!

Solitary Sandpiper - Chelmsford lagoons

The lagoons themselves are quite interesting, with the north cell being reclaimed with aquatic plants.At least 4 Soras were calling to each other, and I was happy to have a very vocal Yellow-billed Cuckoo as well. This is a bit farther north than their known range in Ontario.

As I type this, a flock of 15 or so noisy Evening Grosbeaks are trilling outside my door. I've never had these gaudy finches in May before!

Evening Grosbeaks - North Bay


Brent Turcotte said...

If you are doing any birding in North Bay today, this weekend is our monthly bird bash. About 20 to 30 local birders find whatever bird species they can find within a 80 km radius circle around North Bay (yes, that is huge) within a 24 hour period . Then are results are sent to Dick Tafel at and he makes a report of what is seen. Martin Parker also puts a report into his weekly Blue Sky Birding column. Your report only needs to include species seen, number of individuals are not necessary. This month, a few people also combine the bird bash with the Ballie Birdathon. I participated in the Ballie Birdathon a few times. Great birding but tiring. Once got 105 species with Fred Pinto.

I did a simple bird bash this month, just the Cranberry Trail in Callandar. My lower back is not feeling too good this weekend so I kept it simple. My highlight was seeing a Scarlet Tanager.


Tyler said...


If you stay up in the Temagami/algoma long enough this summer you will see EVGR almost every day. Last year there was a spruce budworm outbreak between Hwy 11 and Lake Superior, Timmins south to the North Channel. The EVGR and PUFI switch their diets heavily towards this food source. Last summer they were common town birds in places like Nairn Center, Chapleau, Thessalon. Even with the spraying last August I still expect some budworms to still be available for the greedies to gorge on.

Also was Hwy 101 still out between Wawa and Chapleau?

Brent Turcotte said...

It is unusual for us, but Evening Grosbeaks are the second most common bird at our feeders right now. If they are not at the feeders, you can almost always hear them nearby. This has never happened before at our place -- we are cut off from the bush by several major roads and a highway. Pine Siskins are the most abundant currently, taking the place of the White-crowned Sparrows.

Anonymous said...

Yeah the last few sites we did have EVGRs on territory - pretty cool. The HWY was still out, which we found out after driving to Chapleau. Cue 4 to 5 hour detour. And on the way back, the highway south of Chapleau was also out, so that it took us about 9 hours to get from Wawa to Timmins.

Anonymous said...

Hi Brent,

I wasn't doing any non-work birding in North Bay so I can't contribute. Hopefully it was a success this year!